When I was a kid, I was the definition of a free-range child. I was climbing trees since I was around seven, playing in the dirt, making debris dams while it was raining, and a whole number of other outdoor activities I or my friends came up with on our own. There were no parents, no artificially-orchestrated play dates with rules of what you could or couldn’t do, and no getting sucked into the digital matrix of screens and anything else emitting a discordant electromagnetic field.
Today, I’m 33 and have no allergies and no asthma. I feel fulfilled with the nostalgic remembrance of countless childhood experiences that helped form the foundation for the free-spirited and strong-willed adult I am today. Free-range play with other children helped me develop social intelligence and emotional intelligence. It helped me learn how to compromise, problem solve, make decisions for myself, and many other essential life skills.
Fast-forward to the 21st century, and things are looking a little different, especially in the so-called industrialized nations. Children are being placed in front of screens ever since they are toddlers, barraged with numerous rules, and not allowed to participate in prosocial behavior with their peers without some adult acting almost like a drill sergeant, micromanaging their every move.
This shift from free-range parenting to helicopter parenting has led to many consequences. In fact, with the recent masking of children, along with forcing them to apply copious amounts of hand sanitizer on their hands repeatedly, and many other perhaps well-intentioned but extremely damaging impositions, children are getting hurt in major ways.
Emotional intelligence is being stunted. Critical thinking and free thought are becoming rarer. Fear is infecting an increasing number of young people. Eliminating recess from schools has led to anxiety and depression in children skyrocketing. Imagination and social skills are declining. I could go on and on, but this article isn’t meant to be all doom-and-gloom. I want to show you what all the extraordinary benefits of free-range play are for children.
Benefits of Free-Range Play
There’s a whole lot of benefits of free-range play. Here are some of the biggest ones.
Children Teach and Learn Each Other
Adults sometimes think children are pretty helpless, needing everything to be done for them or shown to them. This couldn’t be further from the truth. On their own, children can teach and learn from each other. Sure, it’s on a basic level, but they can learn about experimentation, failure, success, problem-solving, and refining ideas. Even conflict resolution is something children can teach each other.
Stronger Immune Systems
Viruses, bacteria, and fungi are no match for a truly strong immune system. Thankfully, an easy way to strengthen it is also an easy one: playing in nature with your bare hands and feet. Children need to be exposed to microbes found naturally in nature to strengthen their immune systems. In a new conscious paradigm, ‘forest floors’ will be the standard in schools, as will being barefoot to receive the maximum benefits of earthing/grounding. Several daycares in Finland recently created “forest floors” in which children played and saw their immune systems strengthen.
Greater Self-Confidence and Self-Sufficiency
The best memories from childhood didn’t involve adults breathing down the necks of their children. Instead, they were the moments where we succeeded in doing something on our own that made us more confident in our abilities and motivated us to achieve more. Free-range play allows kids to make decisions independently, providing them with a deep sense of empowerment.
If you’re a parent, you should consider free-range parenting so that your children can enjoy all of these benefits and more.
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